2 Corinthians 4
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
While this world tells us to colour our hair, lose more weight, get rid of wrinkles, or get a tummy tuck to fight the effects of ageing, Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4 that this body isn’t our home. Like a clay jar, this body will break. Paul could attest to that as over and over he was beaten, imprisoned, flogged, stoned and left for dead. Preservation of his physical body was not his goal. He did not recklessly pursue physical persecution, but neither did he shy away from sharing the gospel if it resulted in bodily harm.
But Paul is not unsympathetic to those who would also suffer for their faith. He encourages these believers that although they may feel like they are being pressed on all sides, God would not leave them to be crushed. They may die, but their real life in Christ was protected. Nothing could take away their salvation – they needn’t fear that their suffering meant God had rejected them or had given up on them. The physical torture and mental anguish they would most likely suffer was for eternal purposes and was not in vain. Paul assures the Corinthian believers and us that God is with us in the midst of our suffering in this world. He will never abandon us. Rather, we are encouraged to remember that this is not our home. Christ living in us is the true treasure we bear. We are exhorted to ‘fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (verse 18). This is not a flippant, casual response to real pain and anguish this side of Heaven, but a promise that those of us who believe in Christ have a far greater glory awaiting us.
Are you feeling crushed, full of despair, abandoned, or destroyed? Take heart, for you have not been cast aside by the Lord. Your suffering is not taken lightly by the Lord, but escape from it is not to be your, or my, focus. Praise the Lord that ‘our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all’! (verse 17).
Please help us to fix our eyes on You, whether we are suffering or rejoicing. Help us to rejoice in the privilege of proclaiming your gospel to the world. Amen.